Taylor Swift’s stardom trumps Gaza’s dead in Time’s 2023 Person of the Year pick

Taylor Swift’s stardom trumps Gaza’s dead in Time’s 2023 Person of the Year pick

The magazine said she’s the “main character of the world” and we agree — she’s the main character of a world that doesn’t care about human suffering.
Updated 08 Dec, 2023

Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s Person of the Year and she’s made it quite clear that she does not care about Palestine and the ongoing crisis. Not enough to talk about it or donate or even like a post. What we can’t understand is why Time chose this year to make Swift their Person of the Year. Isn’t there something else, something very serious going on? Perhaps the annihilation of the people of Gaza?

Look, we love Taylor Swift’s music. We’re ‘Cruel Summer’ girlies and we aren’t ashamed to say it, but to choose this year to celebrate music and celebrity over celebrating human resilience and bravery is, quite frankly, insane.

Especially because, amidst all of the suffering and violence, Swift has been silent. Unlike many of her fellow artists and celebrities, she’s been entirely silent. Most of her friends have said something, one way or the other. Selena Gomez was slammed for both her initial silence and subsequent commentary centring the conflict around herself. Gigi Hadid has, of course, been speaking up, but then she’s Palestinian so that’s expected. Other friends of Swifts have also spoken up — model Karlie Kloss affirmed her support for Israel and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds donated $1 million to children in Israel and Palestine. Interestingly, even her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn has called for a ceasefire.

Everyone is doing or saying something — everyone except Taylor Swift, that is.

Swift has always had a massive following, but that increased manifold this year, with her Eras tour and film raking in millions of dollars and fans. Despite what others may say, we can understand why she was made Person of the Year. Or, we would understand if there wasn’t this massive war staring us right in the face. In a world without this crisis, we could see Taylor Swift deserving to be Person of the Year. But this world is faced with an imminent crisis and so we can’t understand Time ignoring what’s happening right under its nose to have make such a tone deaf decision.

Sure, the world has been talking about Taylor Swift all year — from her Eras tour and breakup with Joe Alwyn to her thankfully short-lived romance with Matty Healy and now to her romance with football star Travis Kelce. We get it. But while E News and the like have been flooding our Instagram timelines with pictures of a red-lipped Swift cheering on her boyfriend at a football game, we have also been inundated with pictures of dying children in Gaza. The juxtaposition of the two is almost dystopian.

It’s not as if Time isn’t a political magazine. When the Ukraine conflict broke out, Time named President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as “the spirit of Ukraine” its Person of the Year. Over the years, it has named countless politicians or activists its Person of the Year. So why then did it choose Taylor Swift to represent 2023?

When Vogue Arabia and GQ Middle East could use their usually non-political platforms to talk about Palestine, why can’t a political platform like Time Magazine?

In its cover profile of Swift, the magazine said she’s the “main character of the world” and we agree — she’s the main character of a world that doesn’t care about human suffering.

Swift has a global fan base with admirers in almost every demographic. The magazine painted a pretty picture of her achievements this year — a tour projected to become the biggest of all time that grossed over $1 billion, the Taylor effect that politicians from all over calling her to play in their countries, cities, stadiums, and streets being renamed for her, an economic boom when she visited new places, a movie deal that gave American theatre chain AMC its highest single-day ticket sales in history, 10 college classes devoted to her, and a massive increase in viewership for her boyfriend’s football games when she started attending. That’s all very impressive and points to someone with a near cult-like following.

Her fans are legendary in their defence of her and her achievements. So much so, that one fan apparently doxxed a young woman and her family on X (formerly Twitter) for questioning why Time named her Person of the Year.

All that could stop if Swift used that incredible influence of hers and spoke up about Palestine. We’re not saying Taylor Swift could bring about world peace with a tweet, but we are saying that her voicing support could help people reevaluate their opinions and put political pressure on governments that are actively supporting Israel’s war crimes.

All the excuses people — us included — made for big name celebrities like Swift staying silent don’t hold water now. Staying neutral is no longer an option when almost 20,000 people have died and countless others have been injured.

Taylor Swift has fans all over the world — not just in white American suburbia — and many of them would like for her to step up and be the role model they see her as. One who takes a stand when she sees an injustice being committed and does what’s right, regardless of the consequences. Unless, of course, she’s too scared to care.